The Sami culture is still unknown for most people, and who would have thought that it would be possible for a Sami capital to exist, where the main language is not Norwegian, but Northern Sami (one of the many languages spoken by Sami people). Karasjok is the home of many Sami and, as a capital, it hosts a parliament, a museum and a Sami camping park.
As soon as we entered the museum, in the main entrance, we came across a few books concerning the Sami culture. Not only the books enlightened us about this matter, but also the art exhibition about the mankind in general, including paintings regarding thoughts, routines, activities and places.
Throughout the visit to the museum, we got more familiarized with the Sami way of living and dressing, as well as with their believes, traditions and superstitions. We also got to know that Sami people not only live in Norway, but also in 3 other countries, Finland, Sweden and Russia.
The group learned that Sami are praised for their handicraft skills, such as boats, clothes and cooking/eating tools, which are often made with birch. This is a big part of their culture. Another element that represents this culture is the Sami knife, that we got to see all over the museum. This knife is used for every task in their daily basis, such as cutting wood. This tool, that was once made of slate, has gradually changed, and is now made of iron and steel.
The knife handle, on the other hand, is made of burls, horn, bark and birch.
Now turning our attention to the Sami clothing… Even before entering the museum and knowing few about Sami clothes, we just need to walk around Karasjok to realize that there´s a typical way of clothing, quite different from what we are used to. The way of dressing is also a major part of their culture and something that may surprise the tourists. The traditional clothes change from country to county and from area to area, for instance, a Sami from Norway won´t dress in the same way as a Sami from Finland and it can go beyond that, since it can also change between regions, even if it´s located in the same country.
The rough climate conditions in the north, obliges the clothing to be made of fur and skin and for this material preparations, a variety of tools are needed.
When talking about Sami culture, people who are not part of this group, associate it with hunting, fishing, the reindeer and the lavvu. Of course this is also part of the culture, but with this trip to the museum, we got to see and discover that it´s so much more than that, it´s the connection with nature that makes the Sami culture what it is.
The museum, besides showing what the Sami culture is really based on, its also surrounding by beautiful nature that makes us feel like we are part of it somehow.